When a fan flames out

iStockphoto/Clint Spencer
Date:27 November 2012 Tags:, ,

Q The fan in my laptop stopped working. What can I do to prevent my computer from overheating?

A Before doing anything else, you should clean the fan to make sure it actually is broken; caked-on dirt can cause an otherwise good fan to fail. Open your laptop case (make sure to keep track of all the tiny screws) and spray compressed air on the fan blades. Now close everything, turn on your machine and listen. If you don’t hear your fan spinning and your computer is hotter than usual or shutting down without warning, you have a broken fan that needs to be replaced.

New fans are readily available online or at computer supply stores. To install one, fi rst remove the broken fan (duh). If your fan is easy to access (some aren’t) and you can fi nd where it plugs into the motherboard, disconnect it from the board. Then put the new one in its place and plug it in.

If your fan still doesn’t work, you have a deeper electronics issue that’s probably not worth fixing. You can keep using your
computer, but sooner or later, unexpected shutdowns are bound to convince you to get a whole new machine.